A couple of years ago I ran the New York City marathon and in my opinion New York is hands down the best city to run in.
There is something special about the vibe and energy the boroughs of New York City have. The first borough you run through is Brooklyn and it was electric. Ever since the moment I ran off the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn and heard someone shout out“WELCOME TO BROOKLYN!” I have always wanted to return to New York to run a race through the city. Unfortunately, this year I didn't get into the New York Marathon so I made it a point to register for the AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon instead.
Once I got in (it sold out in under an hour), I called my older brother and asked if I could crash at this place. He said yes so I booked my flights and counted down the days until my trip. Funny how life can be...I had just accepted a new job which I would start the day I returned from my NYC trip. Now not only was I excited to be running in Brooklyn, but I was now able celebrate and relax a few days before starting my new job.
Once I arrived in New York City I went to the New Balance Pre-Party at Brooklyn Bridge Park Friday afternoon and it sure was a party. I laid out in the sun, listened to music on the pier, and enjoyed a Six Point craft beer (now that’s my idea of relaxing before a race). At night I researched the race course to get an idea of what to expect in the morning. Many other race recaps I read mentioned the first 7 miles could be very hilly, especially in Prospect Park, so to run that first half easy. The blogs also mentioned that the second half was pretty much downhill and flat -- a good time to drop the hammer and pick up the speed. Having just ran the Nashville Half Marathon a couple weeks ago and battling it's never ending hills, Brooklyn looked to be a piece of cake (what was I thinking?).
The morning of the race my nephew was a trooper and woke up super early to drop me off to the start line. As the race started, the race organizers dropped the corrals and I noticed I was moving up from corral E to corral B. As the race began the first section was downhill and I caught myself running way too fast. After reading the other race recaps everyone mentioned to start off slow to avoid being burned out by the time I would exit Prospect Park and already I was doing the complete opposite.
The first half of the was fun and full of energy thanks to all the crowds cheering along the race course. The challenges of running up and down the hilly course came into play since I was not able to maintain a steady pace like I had hoped. I later looked at my splits and I was all over ranging from mid-8 minute pace to sub 8's and up to a 9 minute pace. Once I entered Prospect Park the course began to incline but from the look of the road it didn't seem like a big hill -- but my legs sure did begin to feel the burn. At one point I heard a woman next to me ask out loud "is this the BIG Hill?" and I was thinking to myself "it's going to get worse than this?" The thing with the hills in Prospect Park is that they are a steady incline that feels never ending. Thankfully there was some amazing spectators along the course cheering the runners up the hill and giving us that extra boost we needed to keep pushing through. Once we got to the top of that hill, people were cheering us on reminding us we made it through the toughest part and that it was all downhill from there. (Right, OnlyAtoms Men's Velocity Shorts & Electron Singlet)
As I ran out of Prospect Park and made my way to Ocean Parkway, I ran into my brother and sister-in-law close to mile 8. Just like when I ran the New York Marathon in 2014 I saw them and they went nuts as they saw me run by! My sister was there taking pictures of me as she ran along me for a bit and yelled “I’m proud of you bro!” Having family and friends along the course is an incredible feeling, well for me at least it is. As I saw them and ran by, I got a boost of energy and picked up my pace heading into miles 9-10.
In my opinion, after mile 10 was the toughest part of the race because it’s a long stretch down Ocean Parkway and lacked the crowds. Luckily I was running near a runner from the North Brooklyn Runners running group named Reggie (who later I found out is a bit of a New York legend). I swear it seemed like he had his own cheer squad following him along the race. One of the incredible things about Reggie was that he was all smiles every time I saw him. Seeing Reggie running with a smile on his face reminded me why I run. Racing is all about the experience along the journey, and he was having fun and even though I was starting to get tired and struggle a little, I decided to follow his lead and just be happy to be back in NYC doing what I love to do…Thanks Reggie! Toward the end of the race I was feeling pretty good except for a light tightness in my hamstring but just pushed through it and managed to finish the race in sub 2 hours (which was my only goal) so, mission accomplished!
After the race I headed over to the famous Nathan's Hot Dogs and treated myself to two hot dogs and a large Coney Island Lager (that's an acceptable breakfast right?) with my brother and sister-in-law. A little later I made my way over to the North Brooklyn Runners annual Airbnb Brooklyn Half beach after party and met the always funny Mary (aka Visiblerabbit from Instagram) and my favorite fellow running geek Beth Weinstein from OnlyAtoms. We hung out, laughed, and shared some running stories over some drinks and some of Mary's amazing baked good (seriously they are that good!). Before I left the party I got to meet the legend himself, Reggie, he's such a humble guy and he was still smiling like he was during the race and that made me smile.
After the beach party, I met up with my family and decided to celebrate with drinks at the Bronx Brewery and dinner at an insanely delicious Spanish restaurant called Sabrosura also in the Bronx. Now that the four half marathons and all the traveling I did in April and May are behind me I am now taking a small break before I start to focus on training for the Detroit Marathon this October. This will be an interesting journey since I've decided to give up drinking until after the Detroit Marathon and also follow the Whole 30 diet for the next couple months (I know now beer and pizza for a whole summer is probably going to be harder for me than the marathon training itself). Stay tuned for stories from the adventure to come and beware you may see some random hangry tweets as I fight the cravings for donuts, pizza, and beer...lol.
Robin Brazy is a multiple marathon and ultramarathon running self-proclaimed "geek" (like us at OnlyAtoms!) who's a big fan of Star Wars, comics, podcasts and other nerdy stuff (like us!) who loves a good craft brew (also like us!) and traveling to run races (like us!) Follow Robin and his running adventures online: Twitter @RunningBeerGeek, Instagram @RunningBeerGeek & his cool running (and beer!) blog, www.RunningBeerGeek.com